Console exclusive games have long been a hallmark feature of new console generations. Exclusive titles force gamers to adopt a new console as soon as possible with warnings of spoilers and FOMO nipping at their heels. For those in lower socioeconomic groups, this means added pressure for an expensive upgrade they may not be able to afford.
This is why the Xbox Series X isn’t focusing on console exclusive games, according to Xbox head Phil Spencer. In a recent interview with GamesIndustry, Spencer said the lack of current console exclusives is intentional.
“We should applaud load times and fidelity of scenes and framerate and input latency, and all of these things that we’ve focused on with the next generation,” Spencer said. “But that should not exclude people from being able to play.”
Spencer classified gaming as a fun, community activity — and not one that should ever exclude people based on their financial situation or lack of access.
“Gaming is about entertainment and community and diversion and learning new stories and new perspectives,” he said. “I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games. Or to force someone to buy my specific device on the day that I want them to go buy it, in order to partake in what gaming is about. Gaming is bigger than any one device…”
This approach aims to create a gaming community joined by a love of games without the added pressure of upgrading immediately to new hardware. Given the predicted high cost of the upcoming console generation, this creates welcome breathing room for gamers who aren’t able to invest in a pricy new console just yet.
On the other hand, it also makes upgrading far less appealing for those who already have an Xbox One or capable gaming PC. While there’ll obviously be significant improvements to graphics, loading times and framerate with the Xbox Series X, if the same games are available on both Xbox One and Xbox Series X (or Windows PC), it’s more likely people will be comfortable sticking with the last console generation for the long haul.
Community is an essential part of gaming and it’s great to see Xbox making allowances for everyone to continue playing together, but this model is not future-proofed. How long this approach will continue and whether developers will continue supporting crossgen games is currently unconfirmed.
For those on the fence about purchasing a brand new Xbox Series X, this is one more reason to hold off and reassess your future gaming needs. With few currently confirmed exclusives, you might just be able to hold out and save yourself a whopping big purchase.